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CMU launches new four-year nursing degree program

Central Michigan University nursing students Sadie Masterson (left) and Ashton Lindow (right) conducting a treatment simulation at the College of Health Professions building in Mount Pleasant on Jan. 29, 2024.
Courtesy Photo by Adam Sparkes
Central Michigan University
Central Michigan University nursing students Sadie Masterson (left) and Ashton Lindow (right) conducting a treatment simulation at the College of Health Professions building in Mount Pleasant on Monday Jan. 29, 2024.

In a move to address the rising demand for healthcare professionals in the state, Central Michigan University has announced the launch of a four-year, on-campus Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program

The program is set to start in January 2025 with two cohorts per year (fall and spring semester) and will allow 30 students to enter the program each semester.

Thomas Masterson, the dean of the College of Health Professions at CMU, said the program will be unique compared to other four-year programs in the state.

“Over the last several years, obviously, we know there has been a significant increase for the demand of nursing, not only in the state of Michigan, but really everywhere in America," he said. "Our program will be a little bit different in the sense that we are going to be emphasizing preparing nurses for rural underserved populations and collaboration with CMU's rural Health Equity Institute.”

CMU currently offers two nursing programs. The RN to BSN (Registered nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing) Program, allows RNs with an associate degree to earn their bachelors at CMU within a year to become a BSN. The second program, theJoint Nursing Education Program, is a partnership program with Mid Michigan College. Students begin at CMU as a full-time student for one and a half years, then move to Mid Michigan to complete their associate degree and earn an RN license before returning back to CMU to earn their BSN.

However, with this new program, students will be able to complete a four-year program at CMU from start to finish.

The decision to introduce the program comes as a response to the growing demand for nurses. According to a university statement, registered nursing jobs are expected to increase by 7.9 percent from 2020 to 2030. Michigan’s currently existing nursing programs graduate roughly 3,650 students each year, creating an annual gap of 2,700 open positions in the state.

Nelda Martinez, CMU's new director of the nursing program, said the students who graduate from this program will fill a void in many of Michigan’s rural communities.

“Nurses are the greatest number of direct healthcare providers, period. But the challenge is that the numbers have really been a little more difficult to meet, some greater number of (them) retiring,” she said. “The more you get into smaller communities, rural areas, you know the demand is really there and the resources available are even more limited.”

Another distinguishing factor of CMU’s nursing degree program will be its emphasis on incorporating new technologies such as artificial intelligence into its curriculum, highlighting the program's commitment to staying ahead in the evolving healthcare landscape.

The program will also include an ADA-compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act) nursing skills lab and offer collaborative learning opportunities between students in the two other nursing programs offered by CMU.

CMU president, Bob Davies, said the initiative aligns with the university’s newest mission statement.

“Today's announcement solidifies that our mission statement is very simple, Central Michigan University is defined by the success of our students, our alumni, and the collective impacts we have with the communities that we serve,” he said. “As we begin to launch a nursing program, we are meeting the health needs of this region that is sorely lacking.”

As director of the program, Martinez said her first task in ensuring the success of the program will be recruiting and hiring faculty and staff.

Renae is a newsroom intern covering northwest Lower Michigan for WCMU.
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